It’s that time of year again…

Every year around this time, we see a bevy of calendars popping up on MagCloud. But surprisingly, they are not all what you would think… Sure, there are plenty of family calendars published, undoubtedly intended for distribution to cousins, aunts and grandma, but we think the more interesting use-case are the those being put together by professionals to promote their businesses. And what better way to stay top of mind with your clients, than to be pinned to their wall, where they will see you everyday?

Whether you’re an event planner wanting to showcase your aesthetic, a photographer promoting your work, a non-profit raising awareness or a small business trying to keep your team top of mind with your audience–calendars are a great way to keep your name in front of your client all year long.

Assembling a calendar can be time consuming, so this week we did the heavy lifting for you. Below you will find calendar templates for 3 of the most-frequently used software programs on MagCloud:

Adobe InDesign (CS3 and newer) (zipped version is HERE)

Apple’s iWork Pages

Microsoft Word

You can use these as a starting point for creating your own professional or personal calendar. We won’t spend a ton of time going into the technicalities of how to use these templates because we’ve covered that for Word and Pages last year.

BONUS: if you are using InDesign, there are 3 styles of calendar hidden within the master pages that you can easily apply by changing the master pages for each spread.

Get inspired by some of the great 2011 and 2012 calendars already on MagCloud:

        

Have you created or found a great calendar on MagCloud? Share the link below in the comments section!

Put MagCloud to Work: Publish a Business Brochure

A wise person once said ‘You never get a second chance to make a first impression’. In fact, it just takes a few seconds or a cursory glance for a person to make a judgment about us. Our subsequent actions, behavior and professionalism may change that perception slightly, but not to a great extent.

So it stands to reason that how you portray your business to prospective clients is almost as important as how you do business.

Whether you are a fashion designer, a multi-media training company, an industry consultant, a yoga studio, or a niche photographer, putting your brand out there in a professional manner is extremely important.

One could argue that a brochure is just as important as your business card. It is an important marketing and sales tool, one in which you can do a little bragging and shamelessly present your business in the most positive light. It is your opportunity to create a lasting impression, so be sure that it is a good one.

Whether you are a company with a staff of 2, 20 or 20,000, MagCloud is a great tool for affordably publishing and distributing your brochures in a professional format. Our full-color, full-bleed print options in both standard and digest trim sizes give you the choice to create a robust brochure of multiple pages, or something simple and portable, like a four-paged digest handout. Digital distribution options also make it easy to share your brochure digitally to a desktop, laptop, the iPad, or other mobile device.

MagCloud’s ship-to-group feature makes it easy to drop-ship seasonal information or annual brochures to your clients around the world. Or, if you are a small business, its on-demand functionality means that you can distribute individual copies as needed to interested clients, allowing you to maintain a professional appearance without exceeding a limited budget.

Once you have these great logistics and beautiful print quality, the only thing holding you back is content, and design. Here are a few tips for gathering the content you should include in your brochures, and how to effectively assemble it into a professional-looking publication.

Getting Started:

Who are you talking to?

The first thing you need to know is what you want your brochure to accomplish. That ties directly into the target audience and what the message of the brochure will be. Identify your target audience and speak directly to them. Never try to address everyone. Once you know who your audience is, it will be easier to target your messaging and articulate that your product or service is a solution to their needs.

What is your message?

Always include a meaningful headline. Your headline should clearly communicate your main point so that even if the reader reads nothing else, they will understand what you are about.

Tell the whole story in your writing. Be concise, but remember to write your body copy in plain English. Don’t use jargon or industry lingo, instead pretend you’re explaining your message to a friend.

It’s helpful to use succinct, pithy copy. Avoid long sentences. Keep your message to the point. Use subheadings liberally, as they break up long copy and help draw a reader through the text. Ideally, a reader should be able to get a good grasp of your message by reading only the headings and subheadings.

Designing Your Brochure: 

When all of your information is gathered and your writing is done, you can finally get down to the business of designing. You’ll want take into account the basic elements of good design – organization, consistent styling, balance, color, and so on.

Lay out your brochure cleanly and professionally. The design should draw the reader in and ease the process of reading. Remember that erring on the simple side will be easier for your consumer than an over-designed, distracting or hard-to-read brochure.

It’s great to use graphics to provide balance with text, but be sure they are relevant to your content. Use graphics that grab your reader’s attention and underline your message. Whether it’s a picture, logo, or stock image, just be sure it relates to your message and brand.

As with any design there are some things you’ll want to avoid. These include:

  • Avoid over-used typefaces, such as Arial and Helvetica. Read more in our recent blog post.
  • For content type, keep the point size under 12.
  • Don’t use more than three type faces in a brochure.
  • Generally don’t use more than one alignment.

If you feel lost…

Starting from scratch on a brochure can be challenging. Some great resources for design inspiration can come from other designs. Try searching the web for brochures in your industry and see how your design stacks up against the competition. You don’t want to copy someone else’s design, but it’s a great way to get inspired.

Also check out the stock templates available within most design and word-processing software. If you aren’t a super-savvy designer using InDesign or Quark, you’ll be amazed what you can do with Apple iWork Pages, Microsoft Word, and Microsoft Publisher. For those who are confident in their skills with the software, but looking to get a more professional look, you can also investigate altering templates from Stocklayouts or Inkd, just be sure you are ready to tweak these designs as they are not all perfectly sized for output through MagCloud.

Have you published your company’s brochure through MagCloud, or found other great resources for inspiration and design? Please share them in the comments below.

The Importance of Layouts and Templates

Whether you’re a design newbie, or a seasoned veteran, sitting down to create a new publication can be a daunting task. There’s nothing more frustrating than staring at a blank page, feeling stuck, and unsure of where to begin. It’s often easier to change things that don’t work for you, than to completely start from scratch, which is why we suggest starting with an existing document. It can be the design of a similar publication, or a simple template that has preloaded margins, column guides and style sheets, that you can quickly adjust for a head start. The advantage of dong this, it that the basics of the page are already in place so you can focus on your content and styling.

Why use a template?

Whether you are creating a 12-page or 120-page publication, if you plan to create a series with the same style, you’ll definitely want to invest the time to develop style sheets, and come up with a few layouts that you can repurpose each time you publish. This will help you keep a visual consistency not only throughout each publication, but also from publication to publication over time.

Some of our publishers have done a great job of this, and you can see how it helps reinforce their brand to have consistent styling throughout each publication.  Check out a few issues of Hacker Monthly or Livestrong, or portfolios by professional photographer David Livingston and you will see what we mean. Each of these publishers have developed a consistent style using templates that is unmistakably and identifiably their own.

Not an expert at design? No problem. Using a professional-looking template can increase your credibility, and make any publisher look like a pro. Find a template that has a style that resonates with you and use it as a springboard to get yourself started. You can see some great examples of this in our blog post Easy Design with Templates in Apple’s [iWork] Pages, where we turned a basic Symphony Program into a business services guide for an event planning company, a sports team yearbook, and a fashion magazine, with just a few changes in font, colors and photography.

Finding Templates
Where to look and what to look for…

Some software comes equipped with built-in templates, and you can also find great free and paid templates online at the companies’ websites, like Microsoft has for Word and Publisher here, or Adobe has for InDesign at Adobe.com

Still can’t find what you need? Other resources exist where you can buy specific designs for your needs and many of these sites make their templates available for a variety of design programs like Inkd and Stocklayouts.com.

When picking your templates, there are a number of things to consider for your publication:

1. Is this template for an 8.5″ x 11″ document? If it’s designed as a 17″ x 11″ spread, do I know how to adjust it to the right size?

2. What sort of page-layouts are included in the template?

3. Does the template have the right ratio of graphics to text for my needs?

4. Are there hidden layouts that I don’t see? * Hint: if you are using iWorks Pages, there probably are!

5. Does the style suit the audience I am trying to reach? If not, is it easily changed with a few font/color tweaks?

6. Don’t feel restricted by the stock photography or color palette used in a template. Keep in mind our example of the Symphony Program being transformed into a fashion magazine or an event planner’s business collateral

7. Ask yourself, “This template isn’t designed for my specific use-case, but does the overall layout and feel fit my purpose? Could I transform it into something that works?”

Ready to customize your template?
A few tips for making any template fit your needs.

– Unless you get a template directly from our blog, you will likely have to alter some of their settings to accommodate MagCloud’s printing requirements. Before you start making any edits to your template, be sure the document settings match those in the MagCloud Help Section.

– When you make changes to fonts and colors, always do this by editing the font or paragraph style sheets. This way, if you don’t like a change that you have made, it will be easy to adjust and will change that style use on all of the pages of the template.

– Always start with the original file and make 2 or 3 versions, each with different fonts or colors. Then save each as it’s own template so that you can compare them and easily decide which one you like best.

Ready, Set, Start Publishing!

Now that you have your template selected, it’s up to you to make it your own. Need a bit of extra help? Check out our other Tips & Tricks blog posts, or visit the help sections of your software’s site. Many of them have great how-to resources and videos to help you on your way.

Adobe InDesign

Microsoft Office

iWorks Pages

Vacationing with MagCloud

Memorial Day is a welcome beacon that summer is around the corner. As you finalize your plans for summer, MagCloud wants to provide you with a way to capture all of those special memories and experiences – whether it’s a staycation near home, a road trip to the national park or a getaway to an exotic locale.

How are you chronicling this precious time? Some of us may remember those family gatherings in front of the carousel slide projector or the bulky albums our parents put together after every trip. Now with MagCloud, you can create a personal memento in magazine format to easily share your memories with family and friends in print and digitally.

Here are a few tips and tools to assist you through the process:

  • If you’re creating a simple photo magazine, below are a few tips and resources to “prep” your images before publishing.
    • To produce a quality publication, make sure all images have a resolution of at least 300 pixels per inch.
    • If you’re looking for photo editing tools but don’t have access to Photoshop, check out GIMP (free software that features most of the capabilities that Photoshop offers) or any of these additional photo editing tools.
    • Short on time or not comfortable with design tools? Give Poyomi and turn the photo sets into a magazine without using a design program.
    • Need inspiration? Browse through some of our travel and vacation magazines.

Have you ever used MagCloud to create a magazine of memories? It’s even a great way to commemorate a school year, a birth, a wedding and more. With MagCloud’s digital publishing and print-on-demand capabilities, it’s never been easier or more budget-friendly to capture the special moments in life.

How-to-Guides Make Publishing on MagCloud a Snap!

We’ve just released a series of step-by-step guides to help our publishers create PDFs that are MagCloud publish-ready.

There are guides for a wide variety of design, desktop publishing and word processing applications including Adobe InDesign, QuarkXpress, Apple Pages, Microsoft Publisher and Microsoft Word.

The How-to-Guides walk you through document settings, trim and bleed tips, image sizing, color spacing, designing for perfect binding, PDF exporting and more.

All guides are available for free digital download or you can order a print copy at MagCloud of course :).

If you are looking for inspiration check out some of our existing design templates for brochures, cookbooks and calendars.

Happy Publishing!

Sending Your Holiday Newsletter Just Got Easier

There’s no ignoring that the holidays are creeping closer. It’s time to take that family portrait, write those greeting cards and send our annual updates and well-wishes on their way to our loved-ones.

But if you’re like me, the idea of hand addressing 100+ cards to family and friends, and stuffing envelopes seems like madness.

But for just 60¢ each (when you order in bulk), sending a 4-page glossy family newsletter is much more fun and affordable and you can you can save the wasted hours and annoying paper cuts from stuffing envelopes.

We’ve created six holiday newsletter templates to get you started so you can spend more time enjoying a cup of hot cocoa and playing with the kids.

How it Works
A 4-page publication costs just 80¢ when ordered individually and drops to 60¢ when you order in bulk of 20 or more copies. So you can create a 4-page newsletter and ship them anywhere in the US for about $1.70. Better yet you don’t have to brave the crowds at the post office or lick a single stamp.

Using MagCloud’s “Ship to Group” Feature
The “Ship to Group” feature lets you mail publications to multiple recipients with a single order. That means you can design your newsletter, upload it to MagCloud, and let MagCloud handle distributing copies to everyone on your list.

Shipping each copy costs more than a USPS stamp, (it’s about $1.09 domestic) but when you consider each copy only costs you $0.60 (when you order 20 or more copies)–spending less than $1.70 for 4-full-color pages, delivered to your loved ones with just a few clicks of the mouse–is easily worth it!

If you need help working with Adobe InDesign, Microsoft Word, or Apple iWork Pages check out previous posts on working with each application in our  ‘tips and tricks’ section.

For a basic template that maximizes your space for a family newsletter, and gives you the ease of “Ship to Group,” check these out:

Preview the InDesign (Ship to Group) Newsletter Template

DOWNLOAD the InDesign CS4 or newer (Ship to Group) Newsletter Template

Preview the Word (Ship to Group) Newsletter Template

DOWNLOAD the Word (Ship to Group) Newsletter Template

Preview the Pages (Ship to Group) Newsletter Template

DOWNLOAD the Pages (Ship to Group) Newsletter Template

Ship it Yourself:
If you prefer to put a little extra love into your mailing, want to sign your name, add a sticker or simply put a personal note in a few of your messages, then use one of the  “Fold and Ship” Holiday templates. These have an address area for you to adhere address labels and a stamp, and are intended to be folded to a 8.25″ x 5.375″ size and sealed so that they can be mailed with a 44¢ 1st-class stamp.

This template style requires that you order a bulk order to be shipped to youself, and then you handle folding them in half and mailing. While this process can save you a bit of money–these averages about $1.35 per letter–(depending on stickers, address labels and postage) it’s more time consuming.

Preview  the InDesign (Fold and Mail) Newsletter Template

DOWNLOAD the InDesign CS4 or newer (Fold and Mail) Newsletter Template

Preview the Word (Fold and Mail) Newsletter Template

DOWNLOAD the Word (Fold and Mail) Newsletter Template

Preview the Pages (Fold and Mail) Newsletter Template

DOWNLOAD the Pages (Fold and Mail) Newsletter Template

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS:

How Do I Create a Group Order?

Simply create an address group in your MagCloud address book (Account>Address book>Add New Group). Name your group — clients, friends, family, vendors etc — and select group members from existing recipients in your address book.

Once your recipients and group are ready, add the newsletter to your cart. Set the quantity to the number intended for each recipient, not the total for all recipients. For example, if you are sending 1 copy to 20 recipients you should set the quantity to 1.

When you get to the shipping page, click “Select from Address Book »”, choose your address group and complete checkout. That’s it! Costs will be displayed for the total order including all recipients.

Can I upload my own mailing list to my MagCloud address book?

Not currently, but that is a feature we hope to offer in a future site update.

Have more questions about Shipping or Publishing through MagCloud?

Check out our Help Section and Shipping FAQ.

Easy Custom Cookbooks with Microsoft Word

The holidays are creeping closer, so we’re back today, with another template to transform your family’s favorite recipes into a colorful, beautifully-published recipe book that you can give to your friends and loved-ones this holiday season.

Yesterday I shared a template for using an Adobe InDesign template, which you can read more about here. Today we’re looking at using Microsoft Word to create a quick and easy recipe book.

GETTING STARTED:
To get you started with publishing your own recipe book, you can follow along with the one I created for this demo.

DOWNLOAD the MagCloud-ready Word Template.

CUSTOMIZING YOUR TEMPLATE:

Editing Master Pages:
To edit the page number styles and the logo on the right-hand pages, you will need to acces the document’s master pages–these can sometimes be tricky to find, so be sure you are in “Publishing Layout” which you can select by going to VIEW >> Publishing Layout.

Then, in the lower right-hand corner of the application window, you can toggle from the document content to the master page layouts.

(Tip: be sure to toggle back to the content pages once you have made your changes.)

Making it your own:
Changing the paragraph styles of the document makes it easy to change the overall look of your cookbook with minimal effort.

For a quick transformation you can start by changing the “Document Theme” within the Formatting Palette. This transforms both the fonts and color palette quickly and then you can make more minor adjustments using the techniques below.

Change the Text and Accent Colors:
Much like you can change the theme, you can also simply adjust the colors used within the template using the “Colors” Options within the “Document Theme” section of the Formatting Palette.

By selecting this fly out menu you can select different color palettes, and see how picking them, transforms the look of your recipe book.

Change the Font Style Sheets:
1. With the Styles Segment of the Formatting Palette open, select the text that you would like to modify on the page.
2. You should see the current style become highlighted in the toolbox panel.
3. Click on the fly-out window to the right of the highlighted style name and select “Modify Style…”
4. Within the dialog box, you can adjust the font, color, sizing and other properties of the associated style.
5. Select “Ok” to save your changes.

Swapping-in and Adding Your Own Photos:
1. Select the image you want to replace.
2. Within the Picture Segment of the Formatting Palette, click on the “Replace…” button
3. Select the image you would like using the dialog box.

(Tip: If you want to add more photos to the template:
Simply go to INSERT >> Picture >> From File… )

Inserting More Recipe Pages:
1. Within the navigation panel, select a page and “right-click” or “ctrl + click” on the mini preview of the page you would like to duplicated.
2.  Select “Duplicate Page”
3. Drag the new mini page that has been added to the Navigation Panel to the desired location in the order of the document.
(Tip: You can also select a page and go to INSERT >> Duplicate Page)

SAVE AND EXPORT A PDF

A quick note about export settings:
Because this template has been designed with elements that bleed off the page (like the cover which has color that goes edge-to-edge), you will need to set your document so that it will export as such.

To do this:
1. Go to FORMAT >> Document…
2. In the dialogue box, confirm that your settings match the ones pictured in this screen shot. (Top: 0.13″, Bottom: 0.13″, Inside: 0″,  Outside: 0.25″, Gutter: 0.25″, mirror margins is checked)
3. Select “Page Setup”
4. Under paper size, if you don’t already have “MagCloud” selected, Select Paper Size >> Manage Custom Sizes…
5. Create a new paper size that is 8.5″ x 11″ with a User-defined non-printable area that is 0″ al the way around.

Microsoft Word 2003: To export your Word 2003 document as a MagCloud PDF on a PC, first go into Tools > Options and select the Save tab. Ensure that the box next to Embed TrueType Fonts is checked, but the boxes next to its subcategories (“Embed characters in use only” and “Do not embed common system fonts”) are unchecked.

Then, in the “Save to PDF” dialog box, click the “Options” button and check the “ISO 19005-1 compliant” box, which should also automatically put a check in the “Bitmap text when fonts may not be embedded” box.

Click Okay, then go to FILE > Save As and select PDF from the file type drop-down menu to save your PDF.

Microsoft Word 2007 (PC): To export your Word 2007 document on a PC, click on the Microsoft Office Button in the upper left hand corner and choose “Word Options”. Select the Save tab on the left and make sure that the box for “Embed fonts in this file” is checked, but uncheck the boxes below it (“Embed only the characters used in the document” and “Do not embed common system fonts”).

Then, in the “Save to PDF (or XPS)” dialog box, click the “Options” button and check the “ISO 19005-1 compliant” box, which should automatically put a check in the “Bitmap text when fonts may not be embedded” box.

Microsoft Word (Mac): When exporting your PDF on a Mac, there is no option to embed fonts, so simply select File > Save As and choose PDF from the Format drop-down menu.

*This usually is only an issue if you have empty, hidden or transparent text frames in your document, or when a single character within a block of text uses a different font than the rest of the paragraph. If you have problems, you will either need to eliminate these, or embed the fonts in a different program before uploading to MagCloud. (see the help section)

WANT MORE HELP WITH WORD AND TEMPLATES?

Microsoft Office Word Template Site

Mactopia (for Mac Word Help/How-to’s)